EsCrazy

The story of how I quit my job and went to play in Madrid

Archive for the category “Self Improvement”

Language Learning

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Why do I feel this way sometimes?

Margaux here, and I thought I would give you a little update about my experience of learning Spanish so far.  Although my experience of learning a language has been positive and uplifting, I’m finding studying extremely hard. There are a thousand ways to practice a new language, but I’m not very good about self-discipline, and studying has never been my strong point. I do know however, that once I can put what I’ve learned into practice, its amazing! It’s what keeps me motivated.

I’ve never truly realized (until I put myself in the same situation) just how difficult it is to be an immigrant; not knowing the language, not really understanding the culture, and just trying to fit in has been a challenge. I mean, the language barrier alone could make anyone give up. I now have a new found respect for anyone immigrating to a new country.

Learning a language has been a very interesting challenge for me because I love to talk a lot and I can’t exactly do that yet. I am wicked ‘out of my comfort zone’, I have never felt so insecure before. It’s quite strange actually, but I’m realizing as I observe, listen and watch everyday that this experience is changing me. It’s changing the way I think and I think I like it. The biggest challenge is fitting Spanish into my daily routine. It’s more tricky than you might think. I work all day with my coworkers who are wonderful and speak English in order to get business done, then come home and speak English with Jean, and on the weekends, spend time with our new friends from all over England, Ireland, and the US. I know that it will take more time and effort to practice my Spanish, but it’s frustrating to not be at the level I want yet.

I’ve signed up for a second round of language classes, and am determined to keep at it until I can get by on my own. Meeting new friends at language school and practicing in class is my favorite part. Soon, I will be able to have real conversations!  In another week or so, I will be at pre-intermediate level, A2, which I am really proud of! I am just starting to learn how to speak in the past tense!

The positive side of my learning Spanish is however, that I fortunately have the best wife in the world. Although, she can’t teach me Spanish very well, she has been proactively immersing herself here.  She’s been wonderful with our landlord Miguel and amazingly great with all the bureaucratic issues we’ve had to deal with here. I’m so incredibly grateful my wife speaks Spanish and definitely could not be here without her. Thanks again Jean!

madrid living

Today marks our one year anniversary of moving to Madrid. I can’t believe how fast the time has gone by, and I am eager for the next year to be filled with Spanish success!

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My 28th Year

As promised, here’s my personal goals for the upcoming year, my 28th.  In no particular order, these are the top 20 things I want to accomplish in the next 365ish days.  All of these things are possible! I’ve accumulated tons of bookmarks and resources to make it happen. Check out the links for more info about where I got all these crazy ideas from.

  1. Travel to at least 8 different countries, wear my adventure hat.  My man, Rick Steves, will show us the way.
  2. Budget our money to make room for travel and put $xxx/month into our savings account ($x/year).  It’s been done.
  3. Spend money on experiences more than things.
  4. Become completely debt-free, and live debt-free with the exception of my student loan by March 2013. Dave Ramsey knows how.
  5. Get on the show House Hunters International when we move to a different apartment in the spring. My mom would FLIP.
  6. Exercise regularly toward a goal weight of xxx. (Yeah right, like I’m going to tell you here.)
  7. Eat well. Appreciate good food.
  8. Enjoy time with friends and family. Use skype and gchat to stay in touch with those far away.
  9. Make 4 new real friends in Madrid. Join Meetup groups.
  10. Write in my journal weekly. Finish reading Writing Away for inspiration and guidance.
  11. Begin learning German using Rosetta Stone and local language classes at the library.
  12. Practice Spanish with Margaux every day.
  13. Read 4 adult novels in Spanish.
  14. Start an online business to generate extra income.
  15. Stay in touch with contacts by sending 3 emails a week to people I haven’t heard from in a while.
  16. Identify and get involved with a job, volunteer position or activity that is meaningful to me and build a professional network of people in Madrid.
  17. Maintain EsCrazy and get at least one article published on Bootsnall, Matador Network or as a guest post on another blog.
  18. Complete NaNoWriMo 2012.
  19. Get to know the city of Madrid. Learn about Spanish art, history, literature, culture and food.
  20. Drink wine sometimes, laugh a lot, take pictures.

Adventure awaits!

I am so excited to get going on these! Let the adventures begin!

Happy Birthday to Me

One year ago, I told Margaux that my goal was to be living in a foreign country by my 28th birthday. Here I am, in California, so so close to meeting my goal!

I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions, but I do make Birthday Resolutions, which is where my original goal of living abroad came from.

Here’s my list of 2011 Goals and Priorities I created on my golden birthday last year. These are the things I have spent the year working on, paying attention to, and prioritizing in my life.  In green, the short version of my self-eval.

  1. Be mindful of the food I eat.   Good. I was mindful of all the jamón I ate in early spring, that’s for sure. And of all the burritos I ate when I got back.  Oh and I sure got my mind-full of the delicious items on various bbqs this summer.  A work in progress. 
  2. Work together toward saving $xx dollars  Goal achieved, February 2012. Luckily, moving to Spain cost the same $xx and we get the chance to start saving all over again. 
  3. Move abroad by my 28th birthday   Oooo. Missed it by 4 weeks. But I technically already moved abroad, so I say, goal achieved. 
  4. Focus attention on relationships with family and friends.  Family? Friends? I hope I have treated you kinder and with more attention this year. There is always more love to go around, though, so I say, this one will be on my list forever. It was a real joy to spend so much time with family this summer. And terribly difficult to skype without internet from Spain. 
  5. Get a different job.  My new job is Professional Hobbyist, College Consultant, Entreprenuer, Freelance Library Visitor. And I am good at it!  While I loved my previous position, it was time for me to leave it so I could complete the other items on this list. See #6
  6. Care for my mental and emotional health  Good work! I feel much better than I did one year ago about myself. It took time and work, and the support of my Margaux and my friends. 
  7. Start a blog  Check. You are reading this now, aren’t you?
  8. Take steps to improve Spanish language skills  Completed 120 hour advanced Spanish course in Spain, plus ordered a lot of jamón in español.
  9. Organize objects in my life to make it simpler to manage life.  Selling everything you own is a good way to get organized. Try it! You’d be surprised how much crap you don’t need. 
  10. Be more physically active.  Joined a gym in Spain, did nothing over the summer (see #1), but I joined a gym for the next month before I go back to Spain. Took a part time job doing campaign work door-to-door (see #5), walking for five hour shifts. Needs improvement! 
  11. Read more books, watch less TV.  I did read a lot of books this year (Hunger Games Trilogy! 3 Books!). Check out my goodreads profile, it’s buff. The part about less TV is not so good. Margaux and I had an affair with our Roku and our Netflix account during the winter, Mentes Criminales (Criminal Minds) in the spring, and I’ve watched a little too much Honey Boo Boo this summer than I’m proud of. 

Next week, I’ll post up my goals for my 28th year. What goals do you have? What should I include?

My goals are very loosely based on Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Self Review.

VISA UPDATE:  Last week, I bought a ticket to return to Madrid, with or without a resident visa on October 22. Regardless of whether I get the damn visa or not, I will be reuniting with my Margaux in 4 weeks on tourist visa #2. If my birthday wish comes true, I will get my real visa by that date, fly to Madrid, and never come back. If not, I’ll be in Madrid for the fall and return in early December to (hopefully) pick up my completed visa.

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